Kris Doolan believes that missing out on second place may have been a blessing in disguise for his Partick Thistle side as they prepare for the first leg of their cinch Premiership play-off semi-final at home to Ayr tomorrow night.

A win at Stark’s Park on the final day of the regular season would have been enough for the Jags to pip Lee Bullen’s side to second but the men from Maryhill could only muster a 2-2 draw away to Raith Rovers, ensuring a fourth-placed finish and a two-legged tie against Queen’s Park.

Thistle won 8-3 on aggregate and Doolan – who was a key member of the Jags team that was relegated from the top flight after losing out to Livingston in the play-offs in 2018 – thinks that the back-to-back victories over their Glasgow rivals has allowed his team to gather additional momentum just when it matters most.

“It’s obviously viewed that second place is best,” Doolan, who has lost just one of his 15 games in charge, said. “We wanted second place as well because you get a rest.

“My take on it now is when you look back with what’s happened, probably my personal situation [Doolan’s father passed away last week], but there’s the sort of togetherness we have achieved.

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“We have also scored eight goals, we have also had guys getting minutes on the pitch, we have still managed to rest some players because we've had a week now between the last game and this game.

“In previous years you would have had to play Tuesday then Friday again but now it’s Friday and then Friday so it’s almost back to a routine, which players like. But we've had those extra games now where that momentum is building.

“I know what it's like on the other side of it, I know how difficult that is to stop. But from our point of view, we want to continue making that stronger and we won’t stop till the season is finished, we want to go the full way.

“We have got a positive spin on it because we feel as if now we've got a full squad fit, everybody is playing at a level that they are contributing and that’s the key for me. Coming into the play-offs, it’s that we don’t limp in, we come in strong and we couldn’t come in any stronger than what we are.”

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The previous meeting between these two sides finished in a 1-1 draw at Firhill but Doolan remains confident of guiding his side past Ayr over the two-legged tie. Finding a way of stopping Dipo Akinyemi, the Championship Player of the Year, will be crucial.

 “Look, we will be respectful to Ayr United,” Doolan said. “We know what their threats are, Akinyemi speaks for himself. But there are other threats in there as well in the team which we know about.

“Akinyemi has scored a number of goals, big goals for them, and he’s a huge threat. He is a fantastic player. I think Lee Bullen manages him well, I’ve got a lot of respect for Lee Bullen as well, he has been very nice to me across the time I’ve been in charge. And he is somebody who I have a lot of respect for.

“We'll give respect to Ayr but we don’t want to give too much in terms of they’re coming to Firhill, we will play to win, this is like tournament football where you win you go through, or you lose you’re out almost.

“That’s got to be the feeling of it, that’s got to be the mentality of it. So we play to win in every game and that won’t change coming in Friday night.”

Doolan is keeping his fingers crossed that Stuart Bannigan will be fit for Friday night’s clash. The midfielder’s evening in the first leg against Queen’s Park was cut short when he picked up an injury and he missed the return leg at Ochilview.

“It should be fine,” Doolan replied when asked about the team’s fitness. “Bannigan picked up his calf, I haven’t actually seen him, he was with the physio today but he is hopefully on his way back now. I will speak to the physio later on but in terms of everybody else we seem to be getting there.

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“Anybody who had wee knocks, they seem to be shrugged off but I feel as if that is a mental thing as well. And when the team is full of energy you want to be involved, people want to be involved in that type of team and I just feel as if when I look in the eyes of the players that’s what I see.

“I see real energy, I see real determination and coming into the play-offs, what else could you ask for from them?”